Updated: October 16, 2018 | Contains affiliate links

Transfer your pictures efficiently in 6 easy steps


Usually transferring pictures is the simplest step of any photographer’s workflow. However, the results of transferring your pictures can affect your entire picture collection. There are some simple things that anyone can do to transfer their pictures in an efficient way. I can think of five things that proved to be very helpful over the years in the way I organize my photo collection on my computer.

Make sure you have set up your camera’s date and time properly

It is very common to see beginning photographers who do not pay attention to this detail after purchasing a new digital camera. Many times the cameras don’t come setup for the place where you live and the date and time are way off. It is very important to set your camera’s data and time correctly (Read 5 Steps to optimize your camera).

Insert your card securely into the card reader.

No comment here…just do it !

Have a separate transfer folder.

This is where I pile up all the new photos I transfer from my camera. This is very helpful when I just want to see the pictures quickly and you don’t have time to file and tag them properly. In this folder I delete the really bad pictures (like the ones my daughter takes of the floor and ceiling). This transfer folder will contain sub-folders for each set of pictures I took in a given day.

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My Pictures

Create a separate sub-folder for each day of shooting.

This sub-folder should go in your transfer folder. I only do this automatically with the software I am using. Picasa, Lightroom and FastStone can be setup to create these sub-folders automatically whenever you import new photos. I never do it manually. So, it should be something like: 2009_01_28. So my folders look something like:

My Pictures

Rename each image so that the file name contains the date when the picture was taken.

This is an optional step that I also perform automatically with the software I am using. FastStone and Lightroom support this feature while Picasa doesn’t. The image file name that my camera creates has no meaning to a human, so having the date in the file name will help a lot to visually identify a picture. Some people prefer adding the date to the original file name others don’t want to change the original file name. I prefer renaming my pictures date-original-file-name…or something like: 2009-01-28-IMG_1234.jpg. So, the transfer folder for my pictures will look something like:

My Pictures

Go through the folder names you have just transferred and create meaningful names.

There is great advantage in naming my folders right after I transfer them. Why? Well, for one thing the images are fresh in my mind and I can easily create a folder name that is efficient for later filing. (Read Organize your pictures in 5 easy steps). So, if I have time I rename the sub-folders. Once I name them in a consistent way, I can move the folder in the right place later and then I can start tagging the pictures if I don’t have time when I transfer them.

Essentials for organizing your digital photos

Here are the essential products and services I have come to rely on for many years to keep my media collection organized and safe. Even though these are affiliate links, I wholeheartedly recommend them.

Excellent Lightroom alternative. If you need a cheaper and simpler photo manager then ACDSee Photo Studio for Mac or ACDSee Photo Studio Professional for Windows is my preferred solution for organizing all my media. It has a very fast browser, great image editing and it's simple to use.

If you do a lot of image editing like I do, I recommend using Adobe Lightroom Classic CC via the annual Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Lightroom has best photo editing capabilities even though it has a steeper learning curve. Adobe Lightroom is my favorite for image editing.

I recommend Backblaze Personal Cloud Backup for affordable & reliable unlimited cloud backup. I have been using Backblaze for backing up all pictures & videos for more than 5 years now. All my invaluable digital memories are safe and secure. This is the best solution especially if you have a large quantity of media files.

Use a reliable & affordable external hard drive for backing up everything on your computer. It is absolutely essential for keeping all your memories backed up and safe.

Start organizing now using detailed, step-by-step instructions and videos:
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